This is the Sunday morning sermon for October 19th, 2008.
HAPPINESS IS A WARM PUPPY
I’m sure after reading the title of my sermon and hearing me give it that many of you are saying to yourself, “Where did he come up with that?” or “That is the strangest title for a sermon I ever heard.”
Well, let me tell you where the title came from – I dreamed it. I was going through a particularly difficult week, back in my non-sleeping habit again, and when I finally was able to go to sleep I dreamed I preached this sermon from this text, with this title.
You may be asking yourself, “What does this title mean?” Well, let me explain. In our culture there are many definitions for happiness. Some people think that they can be truly happy if they are successful in life. Some people think if they find the right mate, then they will find happiness. Others think happiness is found is some type of security blanket – a warm puppy.
Let’s look at the definition of the word happiness. Random House Unabridged dictionary defines it as, “pleasure, joy, exhilaration, bliss, contentedness, delight, enjoyment, satisfaction. Happiness, bliss, contentment, felicity imply an active or passive state of pleasure or pleasurable satisfaction. Happiness results from the possession or attainment of what one considers good.”
The point I’m trying to make in this sermon this morning is this: The title of my sermon is a lie. True happiness is not found in snuggling next to a warm puppy, or all the other things I listed.
Where is true happiness found?
True happiness is found in completely surrendering your life to Christ.
God has some things to say about this subject in Matthew 11. Before we looked into our text this morning, let’s pray and invite the Holy Spirit to come and anoint the preaching of the Word.
Before we go into our text, I want to give the context of where our text in Matthew 11:28-30 is found.
It starts out with the arrest of John the Baptist. He has boldly proclaimed the coming of the Messiah and took a stand against the vile leadership and King Herod. Now he is in prison. Being in that prison cell has given him time to think, and doubts begin to creep in, so he sends His disciples to Jesus looking for encouragement, that he would not be dying in vain, but Jesus is the one true Messiah. Notice how Jesus answers the questions of John the Baptist. He doesn’t criticize him in the least.
Matthew 11:4-6 ISV – 4 Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and observe: 5 the blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the destitute hear the good news. 6 How blessed is anyone who is not offended by me!”
He then tells the people about the greatness of John, and if they could accept it, he is the Elijah that was to come before the Messiah.
Next, He speaks directly to the people. Notice the straightforwardness of His words.
Matthew 11:16-19 ESV – 16″But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, 17″‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”
The generation that both John the Baptist and Jesus came and preached too would not receive their messages, even though they both came living different lives. And while Jesus was accused of sin, in the end reaching out to the drunkards, tax collectors, and sinners would prove to be wise, because they would be the ones to receive His message.
Jesus then prophecy’s the coming judgment of the cities that would not receive His message.
Matthew 11:20-24 ISV – 20Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had taken place, because they didn’t repent. 21“How terrible it will be for you, Chorazin! How terrible it will be for you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that happened in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 Indeed I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you! 23 And you, Capernaum! You won’t be lifted up to heaven, will you? You’ll go down to Hell! For if the miracles that happened in you had taken place in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. 24 Indeed I tell you, it will be more bearable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you!”
It is here that Jesus proclaims our text. That those who are burdened down by their sins would come to them, they would fine rest. In the midst of coming judgment, the sinner can come to Christ and be saved!
You may ask this morning, “That’s fine Pastor, but how does this apply to my life?”
Well, how many of you feel burdened down by guilt, condemnation, sorrow, despair and sin? If you do then this sermon is for you!
Let’s look at what the Lord says in our text and apply it to our lives.
1. The Lord says for us to simply, “come.”
Matthew 11:28a ISV – Come to me…
A. The Lord doesn’t beat around the bush, He gets right to the point.
His call is to come to Him. It isn’t a call to go to man’s philosophies to try and figure things out, or to go and buy a popular book, but to come directly to Him. So go to your secret place with just you and the Lord and cry out to Him. Don’t worry about the time, and don’t allow yourself to be distracted, but come directly to Him and just sit in His presence.
2. Notice to who the call is for.
Matthew 11:28b ISV – all of you who are weary and loaded down with burdens…
A. Christ’s call is to the weary and those loaded down with burdens and cares.
B. Are you weary from the constant battle with the flesh and the world – then this call is for you.
C. Are you weary because you are loaded down with pressures from work, family, school, and bills – then this call is for you.
D. Are you loaded down and weary because of your sinful habits and feeling like a failure – then this call is for you.
E. Let’s now look at the benefits of answering His call.
3. We will find rest and instruction.
Matthew 11:28c-30 ISV – I will give you rest. 29 Place my yoke on you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is pleasant (easy) and my burden is light.
A. True rest can only be found in Him.
How do we find this true rest?
B. We must yoke ourselves to Christ Jesus.
A yoke was a wooden bar or frame between two oxen that would pull a plough, wagon, and things of that nature during the time of Christ. In proper context, these people that Jesus was teaching were law-keepers. The problem was that the Pharisees in their writings and teachings added to God’s original 10 commandments and now there were some 613 commandments that they had to keep in order to be right before God. They were yoked to the Law, and were hopeless in keeping it. Everyone was a miserable failure, and the law would always remind them of their sin.
Paul says some things about the Law.
Romans 2:17-24 ISV – 17 Now if you call yourself a Jew, and rely on the law, and boast about God, 18 and know his will, and approve of what is best because you have been instructed in the law; 19 and if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light to those in darkness, 20 an instructor of ignorant people, and a teacher of infants because you have the full content of knowledge and truth in the law—21 as you teach others, do you fail to teach yourself? As you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 As you forbid adultery, do you commit adultery? As you abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 As you boast about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?
ROMANS 3:20 ISV – 20 Therefore, no human being will be justified in God’s sight by means of the works prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the full knowledge of sin.
You see, the Law’s purpose was to reveal our condition, as sinners, it was never to impart righteousness, and justification in God’s sight. If this is true, then how is righteousness imparted to us? How are we declared justified (perfect as if we have never sinned) in God’s sight?
This comes from being yoked, not to the Law, but to someone else. When we yoke ourselves to Christ, it is not us trying to live an impossibility (which is being declared righteous and justified through law-keeping), but it is Christ in us and us in Christ(that is what is means to be yoked with Christ). We are yoked together, in our struggles, pains, worries, fears, and yes, even in our struggle with sin.
C. What are the results of being yoked with Christ?
Rest. The Law demands perfection, Christ demands resting in His finished work. I no longer have to feel guilty because of my failures both past and present, but trust in His marvelous grace to not only forgive me of my failures and sins, but to help me overcome and live above them.
Instruction. God’s word, through both our personal reading of it and the preaching of it should become alive to us. He is instructing us that we are already in Christ, and He is has made us more than conquerors. Being in Christ is not some future event, but it is a present reality for the believer.
We don’t need a warm puppy to find happiness, peace, and contentment. We have Jesus Christ. Don’t allow sin, guilt, condemnation, fear, worry, and sorrow rob you of the joy that you have in Christ. As a believer, He has yoked Himself to you; and you to Him. What you couldn’t do, Christ has done, so rest in this finished work.
We live in a world that is performance and perfection driven. The solution is not to find some type of security blanket during the coming storms, or try to live a perfect life, thinking that God will be pleased; but to be yoked to Christ Jesus Himself. Let’s be a people that take this message of being yoked with Christ to those who are yoked to their burdens, perfections, sins, and fears. Let’s tell them that Jesus offers a better solution if they would just come to Him.